Back in October, upon hearing the warnings and constant monitoring of NOAA weather, Pat Fehily considered his options in preparation for the super storm. With his boat secured behind his Chadwick Island home, extra supplies and exceptional fortitude, he manned his ground.
Many are familiar with Pat’s business Pot Luck Lobsters or his social media handle, LobsterguyPat. He holds one of only 10 licenses in the state and also has a commercial tuna and tilefish boat. Pat is living his dream as he started working on a fishing boat at the age of 15. He is now into his second year as a NJ commercial fisherman and already staring down one of the largest challenges he may ever face.
Listening to Pat describe the hours before and after Sandy hit was very unsettling. As a volunteer first-aider he saw bright lights in the distance. He and fellow volunteer first-aiders jumped into a truck and headed up 35 north to help out, only to be met with a wall of water. Later, he found out the bright lights were the awful Mantoloking fires. The days after were filled with an eerie silence, except for the constant passing helicopters, a sound he may not soon forget.
Like most residents, Pat dealt with much hardship once evacuated and eventually let back in. Getting his boat out of the lagoon and back to Neptune to prepare for the upcoming season, finding out one third of his traps were destroyed and the remaining traps needed repair, and still waiting for promised government money to rebuild and restore his home that he loved weighed heavy on his heart. But he was and still is more than determined.
Today, both boats are ready but Pat is only going out for lobster. With demand so low, prices have dropped considerably. “I am hoping for a break even season, my first few trips cost more to go out than what I brought in” Pat shared.
He is right when he says “so much is working against folks”. Like him, some people had both their homes and their business slammed. Cost for everything from construction supplies to fuel and even bait have gone up. Then there is the seemingly never-ending argument over insurance reimbursement, government assistance, and flood zone maps.
None of this, however, has taken the passion out of this New Jersey fisherman. He will continue to live his dream, even if he needs a part time job now to supplement for the losses. He will bring in some amazing catches, if follow him on Instagram or Facebook, you will see his bounty. The ocean is life giving and he draws from it daily. So the next time you are feasting on lobster at the Jersey shore, think of Pat or, better yet, thank him.
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